The Lowdown | SF21

Welcome to the ShutterFest Lowdown page. Here, you will find most of the information you need for the event. Is everything covered? Of course not, it’s ShutterFest, baby! This is your event and it’s what you make of it.

There will be dedicated vendor classrooms and our Rent-A-Human program in Midway East again this year. Vendors like Canon, Profoto, H&H Color Lab, and 17hats will have lots happening during the event as well. Stay tuned for more details!

New to ShutterFest? Well, expect to learn more than you have ever learned before. ShutterFest is like no other conference out there. Not because we say so, but because your peers have said so. At this one-of-a-kind event, you will have access to educators like never before. They are here because they care about our industry and want to share EVERYTHING they know. No rockstar mentality allowed. You will network with your fellow photographers, make friends for life, and enjoy access to some of the best education available.

If you’re looking for structure, you are going to HATE ShutterFest. This is an event built on the idea that a little bit of chaos can lead to an endless amount of creativity and inspiration.

This is your career. Enjoy the journey. Enjoy learning, networking, shooting, laughing, and making new life-long friendships. You have the power to make the event what you want it to be. Want to focus on business? Spend your time in classes. Want to focus on building your portfolio? Great! Spend your time working with models, shooting all day and night.

Take everything you know about conferences and throw it out the window! ShutterFest is all about community. We are one big family. Everyone here loves photography and wants what’s best for the industry. It’s not about a rockstar mentality, it’s about growing as an artist and being around like-minded people who share the same love and passion you do.

Overwhelmed? YOU SHOULD BE. Take a deep breath and know that every year there are a bunch of new people who attend— they don’t know anyone, they are scared, overwhelmed, and every other emotion. It’s like your first day of high school all over again. It’s completely normal. And just like school, after your first class or two, and once your nerves have settled, you will have made new friends for life. Come, enjoy, and soak up all the energy and inspiration.

Be sure to tag us in your posts – the world is watching! #ShutterFest

Event Hours

Tuesday Early Registration: 2:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Wednesday: 8:00 AM – 7:30 PM // Old Hollywood Party: 8:00 PM – Midnight

Thursday: 8:00 AM – 6:30 PM // ShutterFest Wrap Party: 8:00 PM – Midnight

Friday (ShutterFest Extreme): 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM

Host Hotels: Union Station Hotel (Click here to book!) | Hilton Ball Park* (Click here to book!)

***In order to get the ShutterFest Room Rate and get a goodie bag, you must book through the link above and reserve a room for a minimum 3 night stay during ShutterFest (i.e. September 7th – September 10th, 2021.) ***

Free shuttles will run from Hilton Ballpark to Union Station every 30 minutes from 1:00pm-9:00pm on Tuesday. 

On Wednesday and Thursday, from 7:00 AM – 10:00 AM and 7:00 PM – Midnight.

On Friday, shuttles will run every 30 minutes from 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM & 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM.

Pickup from Hilton Ballpark will be at the Walnut Street entrance between the East & West tower. Pickup at Union Station to return to Hilton Ballpark will be outside of the Terminal Atrium.

Why wasn’t I emailed any information? As was stated on our site and in the email receipt – all communication would happen via the ShutterFest Facebook group and the mobile app.

Why? We don’t want to spam you, and in the past we have had numerous communications go to junk mail, incorrect email addresses, or just not read. Again, this was communicated right from the beginning that all event-specific communication would happen via Facebook group and the app. We are doing exactly what we said we would do.

Covid Health & Safety Information

We will continue following guidelines from Union Station and the City of St. Louis. Please make sure to check the ShutterFest Facebook group for updates as the event gets closer.

Registering for Classes


We will have an app again for ShutterFest 2021.



We will send an email invitation to the app to THE EMAIL YOU ENTERED IN THE “ATTENDEE EMAIL” FIELD WHEN YOU BOUGHT YOUR TICKET. This invitation email will be sent from invitations@guidebook.comBe sure to add this to your address book to ensure you receive the email. Check your junk folder. This invitation could get flagged as spam.

Does the app work on a tablet/iPad? Yes. If you can access the app store, you should be able to download and use the app.

Does the app work on a laptop or desktop? No, the app can only be accessed on a tablet or phone.

Do I have to register for classes? Yes, space is limited. The system will only allow you to register for one class per time slot. So, be sure to register for your MUST-HAVE classes first.

How do I sign up for classes? Sign up for the classes you want by using our ShutterFest mobile app. Classes are on a first come first serve basis. Hands-on classes are limited to 50 attendees. Max capacity for lecture and live demonstration classes are based on the capacity of each room or space. Be sure to save your schedule on the app and choose wisely! We recommend taking a screenshot or writing down your schedule in case there are issues with WiFi in the hotel.

What is the most efficient way to register for classes? You can register for one class at a time by selecting “Schedule” from the navigation bar in the app OR you can select your favorite speaker and see all their classes on one screen by selecting “Speakers” in the navigation bar in the app.

How many classes can I register for? You will be limited to one class per time slot.

Time slots for classes are:


  • 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
  • 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
  • 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM


  • 10:30 AM -12:00 PM
  • 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM
  • 5:00 PM – 6:30 PM

There are too many classes. How will I attend them all? Welcome to ShutterFest, ladies and gentlemen. You will never, let me repeat, NEVER attend every class, every shooting exercise, every outdoor class, and that is the point. We created ShutterFest to be overwhelming. We want there to be TOO much good information and too much to do. Some advice: Where are you weak? What are the 3 or 4 things you want to walk away with from ShutterFest? Find those courses and go at it full power!

What if the class I want is completely booked? We don’t guarantee any single class, but don’t fret. ShutterFest is not about any single class. You have access to Photo Walks, Lunch & Learns, the Profoto Lighting Experience, Rent-a-Human, and tons of classes and shoots on the tradeshow floor. We promise, you will not be disappointed. Pivot, try something different, and enjoy the conference. It’s unlike anything you have ever been to.

AGAIN, we do not guarantee access to any single class. Classes are kept small for maximum experience. Add yourself to the waitlist or sign up for another class. People drop in and out of classes all the time, so you never know if a spot will open. Again, ShutterFest is not about any single class. It’s about your overall experience.

Instead, enjoy the entire event. Make new friends. Network. Build your portfolio.

You have access to models and wardrobe. FREE.
You have access to loaner gear to play with. FREE.
You have access to Photo Walks. FREE.
You have access to Lunch & Learns. FREE.
You have access to impromptu post-event shoots. FREE.
You have access to the trade show area. FREE.
You have access to the Profoto Lighting Experience Shooting Bays. FREE.

Can I register for multiple hands-on classes? Yes, there are no restrictions on hands-on classes. It is first come first serve.

If I don’t like the class I’m in, or am not registered for a class, can I just go to any class? All classes give priority to the people who are actually registered. After the first 15 minutes, if there is space available in the classroom, you’re welcome to join!

Will I get a chance to shoot in a hands-on class? Because of the way ShutterFest is structured, the hands-on classes with instructors will always be crowded. Again this year, we are limiting the hands-on classes to roughly 50 people per class. While this may seem like a larger-sized group, it still allows for everyone to hear and shoot. We have added a significant amount of hands-on classes and off-site excursions this year to deal with the growth of the event. In addition to hands-on classes, we have the Rent-A-Human program (see below). Don’t want to be in a crowded class? Perfect! Grab a small group of people and a model and start your own hands-on shoot.

What’s the difference between lecture, live demonstration, and hands-on classes?

  • Lecture: These are non-shooting courses. Typically classroom based, bring your laptop and notepad and focus on learning!
  • Hands-On: These are shooting courses. You will be shooting and working. Bring your camera, gear, or whatever you need for the course and to create images. Expect to have some level of shooting.
  • Live Demonstration: These are instructor-led courses where you will see a live demonstration of what the instructor is teaching. You can still bring your cameras to these courses and you can photograph, but the goal of the course is NOT for you to shoot or to ensure you get a shot. The goal is for you to see how and why the instructor does what he/she does in order to get the final result.

Is there an additional fee for classes? Unlike other conferences, no, there are no additional or hidden fees. Don’t see a course you like, or the one you want is completely booked? Not a problem, check out the Rent-A-Human program or practice your lighting at the Profoto Shooting Bays.

How can I see what classes I am currently registered for? Log into the app to track the classes you are registered for by clicking “My Schedule” in the navigation bar. Select the date to see your schedule for that day.

What if I change my mind and want to register for a new class? No problem. When viewing your schedule within the mobile app, click the check mark next to the class you would like to remove. It will ask you to confirm that you want to unregister. REMEMBER: Classes are first come first serve. If the session fills up you may not be able to re-register for this class. Once you have confirmed you want to unregister, you will then be able to register for the new class. Register for the new class you want by following the instructions in the how-to-guide.

Can I reserve a spot for someone else? No. They must register themselves with their account.

Can I register or track my courses via my phone? Yes. Visit the app store and download and install the new mobile app, as instructed above. Starting on August 31st, you will be able to register for classes by following the instructions in the how-to-guide (coming soon).

Can I teach my own class? No. This is not allowed per event rules. If you would like to be an instructor, apply to teach and your time will come. As an attendee at the event, attend the courses and the program we have assembled for you. We have spent a lot of time and energy to put together an amazing program for you with some of the best speakers and educators out there. Enjoy the conference. Now, that’s not to say you can’t help one another. Of course you can, that’s the culture of ShutterFest. However, it sends the wrong message to attendees if random people decide they want to be instructors. The hotel and its property is 100% paid for by ShutterFest, please respect that.

What if I want to shoot the entire conference? Perfect! You have come to the right conference. Check out the Rent-A-Human program below. We have ~300 models for you to work with for FREE.

Will we get slides from the classes? Yes, if you receive the goodie bag (see below). Unlike other conferences, we give you all the presentations from the classroom courses.

Registration at the event

Registration will be in the Grand Hall of Union Station and you will need your photo ID to check in and get your badge.

What time will registration be open?

Tuesday: 2:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Wednesday: 6:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Thursday: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM

What do I need for registration? Your driver’s license or photo ID. You will not be able to check in without it. Not even if your dog ate it.

IMPORTANT: The name on your ID MUST match the name you used to register for your ticket. You will experience complications at registration if these do not match. If you have legally changed your name since you purchased your ticket, email or bring proof of your name change to make everyone’s life a little easier.

Do I need to have anything printed? Nope! Just your driver’s license or photo ID. We have a list of names at the registration desk.

Can I pick up my friends/spouses/other badge? No. They will have to show their ID to pick up their badge. No exceptions.

I don’t have a ticket. Can I just show up? We love all photographers, but for this event, you need a ticket! The event always sells out. There is no guarantee you will be able to purchase a ticket at the door. If there is space left, you can buy a ticket at the door. The price for a general admission ticket will be $299. You snooze, you lose. Don’t wait. Buy your ticket now –

Can I transfer my ticket or get a refund? No. This has been outlined dozens of times and it’s even listed on the site before you order your tickets. There are a multitude of reasons why we have this policy. Here is the main reason – the event is THE most inexpensive educational event on the PLANET bar-none. The event is also limited in size – once it sells out – it’s sold out! We are offering you hands-on shooting, portfolio building, top level educators – would cost $1k at other events. You know what you paid for your ticket. Well, in the beginning, people were buying 5 tickets at a time and selling them on eBay for $500 and that goes against the event and why we created it. Hence, no transfers or refunds. This ensures that no one can scam the system and we keep your ticket price affordable. So death, charities, mission trips, terminal illness, can’t afford to come, and the dozens of requests or reasons for a transfer or refund, our sincerest apologies, but this is a policy that has no wiggle room. We hope you understand the in-depth explanation we have provided.


I preordered a t-shirt. How do I pick it up? You can pick up pre-ordered shirts during registration hours. (Tuesday from 2:00 PM – 6:00 PM, Wednesday from 6:00 AM – 4:00 PM, and Thursday from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM) next to the registration desks.

How do I get a t-shirt at the event? How much are they? Shirts will not be available for purchase at the show.

Goodie Bags

As you are all aware, ShutterFest is EXTREMELY affordable compared to other conferences of this size. We can do this because of the negotiated terms with the host hotel. As a thank you for supporting the event and staying in our room block at the host hotels, everyone staying in our room block at Union Station or the Hilton Ballpark will get a goodie bag.

To receive a goodie bag you must be:

  1. An attendee at ShutterFest. Don’t expect to get goodie bags for your husband, friend or dog whose name is on the room but not attending ShutterFest. Stop gaming the system. 🙂 
  2. Booked under the SF21 ROOM BLOCK (all 3 nights) and have your name on the hotel room by September 3rd, 2021 @ 11:59 PM CST. NO EXCEPTIONS. Adding names to reservations after September 3rd is allowed, they just won’t get a goodie bag.

How do I add my name to a room reservation at the host hotel? The only person that can add names to a room reservation is the person that made the reservation. For example: If John made the reservation, John can add Kim, Cindy, and Donnie. Donnie cannot add himself to John’s reservation – only John could do that.

So, if you want to be added to a room reservation to get a goodie bag, you will simply need to have the person who booked the room add your name to the reservation. This can be done 1 of 2 ways:

  1. Add all additional guest names to the reservation at the time of booking (this can be done both online or if you’re making a reservation over the phone).
  2. If booking is complete and you wish to add guest names later, the person whose name is on the original reservation can call the hotel to add additional guest names. Tip: ALWAYS make sure you receive the confirmation email so you have proof.

There’s no need to mention goodie bags when you call, just make sure your room is booked in the SF21 room block and you have any additional guests confirmed on your room.

Why do I have to stay at the host hotels to get a goodie bag? Well, quite simply and transparently, we get a major discount for the hotel meeting spaces if our attendees stay at the host hotel. These savings are passed on to you in the form of an incredibly LOW registration fee. There is no other conference loaded with this much education for this price. Anywhere!

So, the goodie bag is an incentive and reward for those who stay at the host hotel and help support the event. If not, we would have to raise prices for the event and no one wants that.

How do I get a goodie bag? MAJOR CHANGE FOR 2021: Goodie Bags are digital this year! You will be emailed the speaker presentations as well as any special vendor discounts AFTER the event. THERE IS NO PLACE TO PICK ANYTHING RELATED TO THE GOODIE BAG UP AT THE EVENT.

***WARNING***  Trying to game the system will only serve to frustrate the event and the spirit of ShutterFest. The bags are there to entice you to stay at the host hotel to keep ticket prices low for everyone. Gaming this by adding people to your room that are not staying at the hotel, etc will lead to bags being forfeited for the entire room if caught. If you have a problem with this please message Sal directly – there will be no exceptions to this policy.

Will I receive a goodie bag if I stay at the host hotel for one night then switch hotels? No. Stop gaming the system. You have to be part of the SF21 room block (all 3 nights) and room rate for ShutterFest. This is a reward for staying at the host hotel – which is giving the event an EXTREMELY reasonable rate in return for the hotel rooms being booked. And guess what? This keeps your ticket price low.

What’s in the Goodie Bag?  Exclusive savings & specials from our vendors, Speaker slides from all lecture and some live-demonstration courses, and some extra fun stuff!


What gear should I bring? Bring whatever you plan to shoot with— camera bodies, lenses, flashes, tripods, etc. It’s a shooting conference. You’re a photographer. Do the math. 🙂 

Will there be gear to rent at the event? Yes. We have a few select vendors at the event that will have limited gear for you to rent.

Interested in trying a new Canon DSLR/Mirrorless or Canon Lens? Canon will be on hand with their full line of professional DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, and select lenses for you to use in their fully designed sets in Midway Suites 5&6.

Can I buy gear at the show? Yes. The Pixel Connection and Schillers will be selling camera gear.


Food Trucks: We will have food trucks again this year for meals. On September 8th and 9th, we will have food trucks on site for both lunch and dinner. At Extreme we will have food trucks on site for lunch. We know. It’s pretty bad-ass. Conference food already sucks, so we wanted to do something that was ShutterFest-worthy. And no, we are not paying for your lunch. 🙂 

Other Restaurants in & Around Union Station: Landry’s is located outside near the lake. The NEW Soda Fountain restaurant is located outside Union Station (where the Hard Rock used to be) The Train Shed is located outside the aquarium. The 1894 Cafe is located on the second floor of Union Station by the Hall of Mirrors. Station Grille is located right behind the Grand Hall on the second floor of Union Station.  This year, the hotel will be doing a smaller, select menu for room service to alleviate wait times. Starbucks is located in the Grand Hall by the gym.


ShutterFest Extreme // ALL BUSINESS

ShutterFest Extreme is a 3rd day dedicated to more of the business side of photography. Sure, taking pretty pictures is why we all love photography, but if you want to actually make money at this thing, you need to be a good businessperson. In this action-packed day, you will hear from some of the most knowledgeable people inside and outside of our industry.


Extreme will take place on September 10th from 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM

Food Trucks will be there for the lunch break. You will have 1 hour for lunch.

There will be a FREE shuttle running from Hilton BallPark to Union Station from 7:00 AM – 10:00 AM & 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM.


Click here to register for SF Extreme or to see more info on speakers and topics.

Do I have to register for Extreme classes in the app? No. A ticket to Extreme gets you access to all the classes going on that day, so there is nothing to register for. It is listed on the app for informational purposes only.


Tuesday Night Party: Old Hollywood

Did Someone Say Party?! We finally made it to ShutterFest, so get glammed up and ready to PARTY! Wednesday night’s party is from 8:00 PM – Midnight. We’ll have music, drinks and more!

Wednesday Night Party: Wrap Party

8:00 PM – Midnight

All parties are held in the Grand Hall of Union Station Hotel.

Rent-A-Human (aka RAH)

Aptly named by our comedian from ShutterFest 2014, Pat McGann, this is now the name of our model program.

What is Rent-A-Human? This is our FREE modeling and portfolio building program at the event. Since ShutterFest is a hands-on and shooting conference, we realize the need for lots and lots of models. This year, we will have over 300 models at the event across all different genres. High School Seniors, families, babies, children, glamour, boudoir, weddings, general portraits, fashion, fitness and same-sex.

Do I have to pay to rent a model? No. The Rent-A-Human program is completely free.

Do I have to have my own model release form? Model releases have been signed by all models prior to the event, and you are completely covered for official ShutterFest classes, Photo Walks, and Rent-A-Human sessions. For after-hours shoots, you WILL need to obtain your own release.

When can I rent a model? Models will be available to work with on Wednesday and Thursday from 10am-1pm and 3pm-6:30pm. RAH will be closed from 1-3pm – NO EXCEPTIONS.

How does it work? To Rent-A-Human you must use the RAH Model Request Form, available at the event only. The minimum size group will be 2 photographers. We STRONGLY recommend not working in groups larger than 5. The entire point of the program is to give you time to shoot.

There are 3 stations. Station #1 is where you will fill out your Model Request form and get all your questions answered. Station #2 is where you will turn in your completed form, show your photo ID, and pick up your model. You will be able to take the models on location for outdoor shooting or anywhere inside Union Station (except the aquarium and other prohibited areas below). As a group, you will decide on your own. Station #3 is where you will “return” your model.

How many models are there? We will have ~200 models at this year’s event.

How can I see which models are coming to ShutterFest? This year we have put together a gallery of ALL the models that will be attending ShutterFest! Click here to see who is coming:

Hair & Makeup: Paul Mitchell the School will be volunteering their time and resources to provide hair and makeup for the models to ensure your shoots are top-notch!

Can I bring in my own hair & make up artist? Unfortunately due to COVID restrictions, we will not be allowed to grant access to outside hair and makeup artists. If you would like to bring your own hair and makeup artists, there will not be space available throughout the event. Please plan on buying a ticket for these people if you want them to have access to the event.

What kind of wardrobe is available through Rent-A-Human? We have a few local bridal shops that donated 60+ wedding and bridesmaid dresses for you to use on your shoots! Models will be instructed to bring other outfits for their shoots, however, if you are looking for a stylized shoot, feel free to bring an outfit or two that you have been dying to shoot.

Can I pick a model or category I want to shoot? You can specify two category choices on your Model Request form – we will do our best to supply you with your first request, but we cannot guarantee that model type will be available. Models are based on availability, time of day, etc. Again, you are not guaranteed any specific model or genre. We will do our best. Models CAN NOT be selected by name. If you want to set up a shoot with a specific model, you will need to coordinate directly with that model OUTSIDE OF RAH HOURS.

Can I bring my own wardrobe for a Rent-A-Human model? If you would like to bring an outfit or other clothing accessories for the models, you are more than welcome to do that. Don’t forget, we have wedding dresses available on site for bridal and the male models have been instructed to bring suits.

How long do I have to shoot with my Rent-A-Human model? You will have 1 1/2 hours to work with the model. We will be monitoring check out times and return times, and if you are late returning the models, you will no longer be allowed access to the Rent-a-Human program for the remainder of the event. Please note – this applies to your entire team. You are a team – you win together, you lose together.

Where can I go to shoot? You may shoot anywhere in or around Union Station EXCEPT the following locations:

  1. The Aquarium 
  2. All public restaurants
  3. Mirror Maze

Wherever you decide to go, be mindful of your time for Rent-A-Human! Wandering too far will eat into your shooting time.

Can I plan my own after hours shoots? Shooting after hours is not only encouraged, it’s expected. ShutterFest is something that goes on all day and into the late hours of the night. You will have to coordinate with the models directly on this because each model has time and travel restraints. Please note: after-hours shoots must be planned after RAH hours. During RAH hours, models are needed for Rent-a-Human. (the main reason they are at the event 🙂 )

How do I share images with the models? This is where we have to show our ShutterFest love. The models are here for free. In return, you are expected to share your images with them for their portfolios. They are working to build their portfolio and they need your help for that to happen. Please share your images!

The models will have signed release forms prior to the event – so you have been cleared to use these for your portfolio, website, etc. THEY DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING FOR YOU DIRECTLY. 

You are more than welcome, and encouraged, to share your contact information with the models. We have created model info cards to facilitate this exchange, so that you can have a photograph of your model’s information.

We will have an image sharing site (Powered by N-Vu) where the models can grab their images for their portfolio.

To share your images please upload them to the upload button in the lower left corner to upload your images to the gallery.

This is an N-Vu gallery and the models will have the ability to download the images from the site. It’s perfectly fine to put your watermark in the lower right corner of your image. Just remember, they want these for their portfolios, so the watermark should be noticeable, but not overpower the image.

Sizing your Images: Resolution for the image should be roughly 1300 pixels on the long edge @ 144 pixels. This is perfect for the web. If you use Lightroom for the export, this is easy.

Naming your Images: Name your images using the following naming convention: ModelName_StudioName_SF21_Number.jpg 

This makes it easy for models to find their images in the gallery and keep track of the photographers they worked with.

The Profoto Lighting Experience (AKA The Shooting Bays)

Profoto is here! Play with the latest and greatest gear on the planet. Right off the trade show floor in Midway West there will be 2-4 unique Shooting Bays stocked with Profoto lights and Profoto light shaping tools. There will be models in the bays at all times for you to work with for FREE! Build your portfolio, practice new techniques, and work with your peers to create some awesome images!

The Profoto Shooting Bays are an amazing way to build your portfolio, practice what you learned in class and self-teach. Part of being a photographer is experimenting…so experiment to your heart’s content! We will provide the ingredients, including the models, and you’ll provide the talent. This is a great way to work with new gear and produce killer images for your portfolio.

Volunteer at Shutterfest

Wanna be a volunteer at one of the most exciting events on the planet? We are in search of 30 volunteers for the event this year in various areas such as Rent-A-Human, Help Desk, Registration, and more!

Think you got what it takes? Click here to fill out an application.